Sahalee's narrow setup plays to Anna Nordqvist's strengths

By Lauren Smith
Published on
Sahalee's narrow setup plays to Anna Nordqvist's strengths

SAMMAMISH -- Sweden's Anna Nordqvist has walked the narrow fairways at Sahalee Country Club before. She remembers the specifics.

"Very narrow, a lot of trees -- so, I think it's key to keep it in the fairway this week," she said.

For Nordqvist -- who turns 29 on Friday -- the thin, enclosed course is favorable. Nordqvist took fourth at Sahalee in 2007 when she played for Arizona State University and the course hosted the Ihlanfeldt Invitational.

She's currently ranked seventh on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy (80.12 percent).

"I do hit a lot of fairways. I do hit a lot of greens," Nordqvist said. "I've always been a pretty good iron player -- especially with my long irons, and you're going to have a lot of longer irons this week."

Nordqvist is coming off her first win of the season last week in New Jersey, where she defended her ShopRite LPGA Classic title.

She said Tuesday was the first day she played the course at Sahalee this time around, due to travel.

"Today was the first time I saw the course, so it was a pro-am, but I did have to pay quite a bit of attention to the golf course," Nordqvist said. "I was impressed. Good course, I got a lot of good notes."

Her group finished its round on hole No. 9 -- a short par 3. Nordqvist plopped a tee shot in the middle of the green, but it rolled off the backside down a hill. She understands there is not much space to play with.

"Pretty small target, so hopefully (the course) does set up in my favor," Nordqvist said. "I'm working hard on my game, so wherever the challenge is, I'm ready for it."

Ken Griffey Jr. a big hit with Lydia Ko

Former Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey Jr. highlighted local athletes who played in the pro-am tournament Tuesday.

He teed off with Lydia Ko -- the world's top-ranked golfer -- who was nothing short of impressed with his lengthy tee shots.

"It was a really fun day," Ko said. "Obviously Ken hit the ball a mile and hit it really straight."

Ko said the group used many of Griffey's drives to play off.

"I had a nice drive on (hole number) 1, and then I hit a nice approach on 18," Griffey said. "That's all people need to see right there."

Two Seattle Seahawks, Steven Hauschka and Jermaine Kearse, joined Mo Martin, who won the Women's British Open in 2014, for the tournament.

"For me, any major event that comes to the state of Washington, I'm always there to support," Kearse said. "I think it's good for the state and good for the Northwest."

Because of Martin's precision throughout the course, neither thought the narrow fairways would be the biggest challenge.

"Probably the greens," Kearse said. "The greens would be tough."

"I think it's just going to be hard to make putts over 10 feet because there's a lot of slippery slopes and undulations," Hauschka said. "It's tough."

This article was written by Lauren Smith from The Olympian (Olympia, Wash.) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.